I rarely mull things over before taking action. Some call it spontaneity, some call it stupidity and some, like my father, get colorful and call it “getting a wild hair up your ass”.
The phrase “you don’t think” was shouted at me more times as a kid than I can count. It covered a wide range of misdemeanors, including but not limited to the time I – threw our poodle out the window, ran into the heating and air system with the four wheeler, wrote “I hate dad” (except I used his full name) 100 times instead of the allotted punishment of “I will think before opening my mouth”, coerced the neighbor’s children into eating chewy cat treats, and snuck out of my bedroom window with the family dachshund.
In my early 20’s I did appalling, dangerous things, mostly to do with sex and/or alcohol. Now I might not go home with a man covered in tattoos, including one shaped like a postage stamp that says “TRAMP”, named George that I said five words to at the bar (I believe they were, “your dick better be huge”) anymore. But I will, apparently, still do a lot of things without thinking about the end results first. The majority of them are just little things, but they serve the purpose of showing me that, even though I’m now mostly old and lame, I’m still essentially the same irresponsible person.
For instance – I decided last week that I was going to sell jewelry, host a book party and take orders to help out a friend that’s doing it on the side. (Selling jewelry I mean, not sex. Though if she were, I wouldn’t judge. This economy is a bitch.)
First of all, I’m terrible at sales. “You’d better buy something or I’ll karate chop you in the vagina” aren’t the words of a person that does well in retail situations. And if someone chooses not to purchase something even after that eloquent, empty threat of a sales pitch, the parting words aren’t much better – “I hate your face”.
Then I suddenly decided that instead of just getting book orders, I’d have an actual party. Ostensibly this was because I would get more orders that way, but once I started moving forward with the plans I thought, “Why the fuck did I say I’d do that?” It had completely slipped my mind when I said, “I’ll have a jewelry party”, that I’d actually have to, you know, go through with it. I’d have to send out invitations, make phone calls, make food, clean the house more so than usual, and sit in a room full of old ladies.
I don’t like old ladies and I don’t like cleaning. Actually, one of the most common questions I’m asked by family and friends is, “What do you like?” Or they simply state, “You don’t like anything.” I have a reputation for being rather cranky. I digress.
I couldn’t back out because I already had two book orders and my friend really needed the show. So Monday night I sent out my “invitations” – also known as a mass text message basically saying, “please come, there will be food”. Once they show up, I figure I can manipulate them into buying some damn earrings or something. However, the people that I know are attending are such a diverse group that I’ll likely be running interference the entire time. All I need is for my boss to walk up on a conversation like this: “You know she’s always talking to her about her vagina.”
“Yes! And she said that sometimes she doesn’t make it to the bath...Oh...hello...”
Another good example is how I ended up agreeing to sing in a Christmas program at a church I don’t attend. I was standing in a group of people, minding my own business, when a doctor that works with my mother (who also happens to be my daughter’s pediatrician and a lovely woman) asked me about my years in the high school chorus.
“Your mother told me you used to sing with Ms. G, is that right?”
“Yes”, I replied with a smile.
“Well we’re having a Christmas Cantata and we’d love to have you be a part of it! You’re a soprano right? First or second?”
Gone was the real smile and in its place the panicked fake, a cross between wild eyed hysteria and a sudden stomach pain that means its deuce time. “Erm...yeah. First...or I used to be. It’s been a long time.”
“Oh, but you never forget those competitions! They were so much fun! There are a lot of us that took Chorus in school so we just love being in choir, gives us that old feeling.”
“Uh huh....” People don’t forget! .....
“So we meet every Wednesday night at 7 and some Sunday nights...”
“Sounds like fun”, I said too loudly.
“I can’t wait to see you there! Bring your mother.”
“Ooook! I’ll be there!” Wait...what? Tourettes! Tourettes!
And that’s how my mother ended up bringing home a CD sent by the Doc for me to practice with before the first rehearsal.
That was the first week in November. I haven’t made it to one practice yet, nor have I even attempted to listen to the CD. If I would have actually taken a moment to think about my answers before croaking out some bullshit, I wouldn’t be put in the position of looking like an asshole for not turning up. Or looking like an asshole when I eventually cave, listen to the CD, stand in front of a church full of people, and squeal in a choir robe, reeking of Saturday night’s beer blitz.
However, everyone has their limit. I can’t go on being irresponsible forever, can I? And after last weekend’s incident, thinking before I act, or agree to things, may just become my new favorite pastime.
My mom and her boyfriend left to go to the mountains and I immediately said to myself, “I’m going to have a party!” Then I enlisted my friend and neighbor, Claire, to help me invite the usual crowd.
I’d forgotten a couple of key elements when I decided to throw a party at my house that Saturday night:
1. Both Carolina and Clemson were playing and both games were critical.
2. Claire is overzealous when it comes to football. This is an understatement.
3. People get drunk at parties.
4. The usual crowd is quite large. My house is not.
At 6:30 Rachel, my sister and I arrived back at the house with a handle of Jim Beam, two cases of beer, and an extra pack of cigarettes. Claire came walking in a few minutes later with her insanely hyper Weimaraner in tow, decked out in her Clemson finest, and immediately flipped the TV to football.
Things started out fine – a few more people showed up within the next hour and we were all just hanging out and drinking a few beers. We made plans to play a game of Things when more people arrived.
Then it all started to go downhill rather quickly – Claire broke out the liquor, Claire took shots of liquor, more people showed up, Claire took more shots of liquor, Rachel hid, my sister curled up on the couch with some boy I thought was a deaf/mute, Claire coerced other people into taking shots, still more people showed up, someone kept making really loud jokes about “snatch”, and I...I was close to having an anxiety attack.
Before Clemson even made it to half time, I couldn’t hear myself think it was so loud in there. Rachel had forced herself into a tiny ball in the corner of one couch, one girl was puking in the bathroom, Claire had the remote shoved down her pants so no one could flip to the Carolina game to check the score, and someone had smoked all my cigarettes.
I’d only had two beers and I made myself drink those. I was too anxious to have fun at my own party. I stood on the perimeter, observing like an outsider for quite awhile. It was surreal watching them all interact without me at the center.
It wasn’t until I saw how much of the liquor bottle Claire and those had drunk that I moved into action. One of two things was going to happen – I was going to force myself to get drunk in order to deal, or I was going to scream at them all to get the fuck out.
So I drank. I shoved my way through the tangle of them and I poured a row of shots, downing them one after the other. A guy standing next to me clapped me on the back and said, “I hear ya”.
I walked around mopping up spills, picking up trash and throwing away beer cans. I approached my cousin Dave and said, “Go. Go now and get the fire barrel.”
“Ugh, I don’t want to. I’m hanging out.”
“Go get it now or die. These people have got to clear out some.”
About an hour later the majority of them were playing cornhole under a spotlight in the driveway and standing around a fire barrel gossiping. I’d managed to exert a bit of control, but while I was doing it, I was also killing the bottle of Jim. It was preferable to killing Claire, who was the only person who couldn’t be managed. She banged on the windows when Clemson scored, she banged on the counter when the other team scored, she screamed “break his fucking neck” at the top of her lungs in five minute increments, and by the time the game was over she was stumbling around in a huff...still with the remote in the front of her pants.
Several people left and I was able to really start enjoying myself. We stood around and talked outside, I found my spare pack of cigarettes, and we played cornhole and Things. I wish I would’ve saved the slips of paper from the Things game because they were the best part of the night. Well, that and when Dave was going to give me a piggyback ride and instead of jumping up from the ground like a normal person, I ran up the stairs of the patio and launched myself at him from the top like a spider monkey – sending us both plummeting to the ground. Poor Dave.
At 3am, when the only two people left were Claire and a guy friend of hers, I was rather drunk and ready for my pajamas. Rachel played bad cop and sent them home while I crawled into bed.
I woke up at 9:30 the next morning with a marching band in my head. My very first thought was, of course, “Why the fuck did I say I’d have a party?”
The damage to the house was minimal – just a sink full of dishes, a dirty floor, a few scattered beer cans (I’d picked up the majority as they were sat down because apparently I’m OCD about that), and a bit of a mess on the patio. Rachel, my sister and I cleaned up pretty quickly.
The main damage that was done wasn’t to the house, it was to me. Though I managed to have a decent time by the end of the night, I’m pretty sure the beginning scarred me for life. I can confidently say that I will never have another party again – never. From now on, I’ll stick with having a few bottles of wine on the porch with three or four people.
And if the memory from the night before wasn’t enough to make my resolution stick, Claire made it iron clad. She came walking in when we were about finished straightening up, smiling and completely hangover free, though she’d been by far the drunkest person there. I was still a bit put out with her behavior, but nothing a day or so wouldn’t fix. After all, I’ve certainly been the obnoxious drunk before.
Then she asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
I told her about how anxious I’d been, about how the spilling and the screaming and the general mayhem had almost sent me over the edge. Without actually pointing any fingers, I tried to gently imply that she’d been the one at the helm of that shipwreck.
She nodded earnestly and leaned toward me. I stared mutely back, waiting on the apology that was my due.
Looking me straight in the eyes and laying her hand atop mine, she said, “I know, girl! I could never have a party at my house. All those people! I don’t know what you were thinking!”
1 week ago